Why Are Email Naming Conventions Important?

By Kevin Lee

Email naming conventions don't have to be complex to be helpful.
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While no two email addresses on the Internet are the same, many people on the Web have the same name. As more Internet users create new email addresses, it becomes more difficult for them to come up with names that are not in use. Depending on the size of your business, you can benefit by using naming conventions to structure the way you generate email names.

Internet Communications

The Internet consists of a vast network of computers that exchange information. Each computer has a unique Internet Protocol address that identifies it on the Web. When you enter a URL in your browser's address bar, a Domain Name Server translates that name into an IP address that other computers understand. Because each IP address is unique, information arrives at its appropriate destination. When you send an email to someone who uses Yahoo or Gmail, you type the person's username at the beginning of your "To" address. A typical Yahoo email address may appear as follows: JrSal9331x@yahoo.com. The computer that sends your email knows to send it to Yahoo. Yahoo then figures out where to forward the message by looking at the username at the beginning of the email address.

Email Names

As an individual email user, you probably don't need to worry about naming conventions because you work with only one name. However, if you manage a business, you may wish to formalize the way people create email names. Doing this can help your business present a consistent face to customers and clients with whom you communicate. For instance, if your business's domain name is my_business.com, one person in your organization might have an email address of john_paulson@my_business.com while another could use grace.williams@my_business.com. A dash separates the first and last name in the first address, while a period separates those names in the second one.

Naming Convention Benefits

While email addresses that contains a mixture of dots, dashes and other characters may be almost the same, email recipients may notice the difference. If you create business applications that process email names, it may be easier to write those programs if all email addresses use a similar naming convention. Naming conventions can also help incoming messages arrive in the correct inboxes. For instance, if your company has two John Smiths, you will need to set up a consistent naming convention that enables email senders to differentiate between the two recipients.

Using Naming Conventions

One way to handle duplicate names is to use numbers in email addresses. One John Smith, for instance, could have an email address of johnsmith1@my_business.com and another could have a name of johnsmith2@my_business.com. Another way to do that would be to use the first letter from the first name and the first letter from the last name to create an email address such as jrsmith@my_business.com. You could resolve duplicates by adding a number to the end of "jrsmith" to create jrsmith2@my_business.com. Regardless of how you create your naming convention, it's important to generate new email addresses using the same set of rules.